The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

House honors girls killed in Birmingham church bombing with Congressional Gold Medal

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This item has been updated.

Almost 50 years after their deaths, the House voted Wednesday to award the Congressional Gold Medal to four young girls killed in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., a seminal moment in the civil rights movement.

Addie Mae Collins, 14, Denise McNair, 11, Carole Robertson, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14, were killed on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963, in a bombing that also injured 22 other churchgoers. The attack caused international outrage and drew the attention of civil rights leaders, who came to Birmingham to expose the city's discriminatory practices and compel Congress to pass civil rights legislation.